Buffy awoke in a small room, staring up at wooden beams. She was lying on a small cot with her head rested on a cotton pillow. Slowly, she pulled herself up, surveying the room in confusion. There was a highly ornamented lamp resting on an oaken table across the room, and beside the table was a large chair, from which a man stared back at her, his bleached hair and leather coat seeming strikingly out of place.
“I wondered when you’d wake up,” he said, standing and walking over to her.
“Spike?” Buffy asked dazedly. “Where…”
“London. In the 1800s.”
Buffy’s eyes widened. “Please tell me you’re joking.”
“Wish I was. It seems that when we touched that witchy crystal it zapped us straight to the place I’d been thinking of.”
“Which is here?”
“Yeah. It’s stupid, really. There was a lamp sitting on the table that looked just like the one over there,” he gestured across the room. “Don’t know how I even remembered the thing.”
“So,” Buffy got up and strode cautiously towards the window, staring out at the cobbled street.
“You’ve been here before? In this room?”
Spike smiled. “Been here? I lived here.”
Buffy turned. “We’re in your house?” she asked, incredulously.
“Yeah. That’s my bed you were dozin’ on.”
“...Right. So what do we—” Buffy froze. Spike tilted his head expectantly.
“Oh god. This is bad.”
“We’re stuck. Back in time. We don’t know where the crystal was at this point in time. It’s probably across the world somewhere. And no one knows where we are and…” her shoulders fell as she realized the worst thing of all. “I’ll miss the dance. Will even helped me pick out a dress and everything. God, Will. I might never see her again...”
Spike put his hands around Buffy’s arms, looking her in the eye. “Look, we gotta be clearheaded. This might just be temporary, and if it’s not we’ll find our way back. We’re not stuck and you’re not gonna miss your bloody dance.”
“Right. You’re right,” Buffy took a breath, clearing her head, and scanning the room once more. “These clothes are no good,” she stated, matter of factly, gesturing between the two of them. “We’ll never fit in like this.”
“Well, I’ve probably got some clothes in my dresser. Not sure what we’ll do for you, though. My Mum’s clothes are probably too big.”
A grin spread across Buffy’s face. “You lived with your Mom?”
“Hey, it wasn’t weird in the 1800s. Plus, I was a poet. Not like I was making money right and left.”
“Speaking of you… are you still here?”
“Back in time. Is the old you still walking around? Will he come here and find us?”
“Huh, didn’t think of that. Probably is. We should get moving before anyone gets home.”
* * *
Spike was dressed in an old suit of his, with vest and an orangy-brown tie. Buffy had sifted through his mother’s closet and managed to find a trunk sitting in the very back under a thin layer of dust, which was filled with dresses and shoes from Mrs. Pratt’s younger days.
She changed her clothes, feeling glad she had thought to curl her hair that morning, as Spike collected an assortment of food and money at a table in the kitchen downstairs. She slipped on her new shoes and picked up her old clothes, so as to add them to bag Spike was packing.
She wandered into the kitchen, raising an eyebrow when she saw what Spike was wearing. He looked very uncomfortable.
“You look ridiculous,” she laughed. He glanced at her sidelong.
“I’d say so do you, but I’d be lying.”
“Really?” asked Buffy, flatly. “You actually think I look good in this dress?”
Spike smiled, tilting his head. “It suits you.”
At that moment a door was flung open a few room away. Buffy and Spike froze.
“Transcendent… splendent! That’s a good one…” a familiar voice muttered on the other side of the wall. “I see in your eyes, destiny transcendent. Oh how splendent is your… Pleasantry? Brevity?” A pencil tapped as the man sank into a chair.
Spike rolled his eyes, picking up their bag and motioning towards the back door. The pair snuck out quietly, circling the house until they reached the street.
“That was some poem,” said Buffy.
“That poem was rot,” said Spike, shaking his head. “Don’t know what I was thinking all those years.”
“It had… spirit. So uh… where are we heading?”
“Where do you wanna go?”
“Well, seeing as we don’t have any other plans… how about the Thames? I’ll probably never have another chance to see it. ”
Buffy stared interestedly at the people and the clothes and the houses as Spike looked for a horse and buggy. “This is a beautiful place,” said Buffy at last, as a carriage pulled to a halt in front of them. “Not too keen on the smell, though.”
“Try not to breathe.”
“With this dress, I doubt it’ll be a problem.”
Spike smirked, before paying the driver and telling him where they wanted to go. The man seemed rather disturbed by the strangeness that was Spike’s hair, as his eyes kept darting up to it, but he didn’t say a word, just nodded politely and as they opened the coach door.
“My lady,” Spike held out his hand, and Buffy took it with a grin, climbing inside the carriage.
“Why, thank you.”
* * *
“So, you. Pre-vamp. Lots with the literature, huh?”
The carriage shook its way down a dark street, the light from lamp posts reflecting off puddles in the cobblestone road. It had started to rain. It had been late afternoon when Buffy and Spike had arrived in this era, but thankfully, by the time they were out the door, the sun had made its way down in the sky. Spontaneous combustion would probably have drawn them some unwanted attention.
“Unfortunately. God, I was an insufferable romantic.”
“I don’t know,” Buffy smiled, looking out the window, “He seemed kinda charming. You know, in a weird, sappy sort of way. Is everyone like that in this time?”
“Nah. I wasn’t exactly a typical…” Spike’s voice trailed off. Buffy turned towards him, to see a small smile on his face.
“Nothing, just... “ Spike shook his head. “All these places. I recognize them all. It’s been a lifetime…”
“Getting nostalgic?” Buffy asked quietly, scooting closer across the soft red bench and staring into the night.
Spike laughed silently. “Guess I still am an insufferable romantic.”
* * *
At last, they were let out at the edge of a long stone bridge. It was empty, and quiet, in the middle of the night, and lights from cottages and streets glittering gold on the rippling water. The rain felt cold in Buffy’s hair as she and Spike walked onto the bridge, making their way slowly to its center, and looking out into the river.
“This is… wow,” Buffy whispered.
“So it is…”
They stood under the black sky, a hint of stars peeking out from behind misty clouds.
“Well, so long as I’m being a gentlemen,” Spike took off the grey-brown coat of his suit and held it out. “Take this,” he said, and draped it over Buffy’s shoulders.
She smiled. “Thanks.”
They turned back to the water, seeming as if this was exactly where they belonged.
* * *
After spending a good hour at the river, they walked into the town and found an inn to stay the night. They found a room with two small cots and fell instantly to sleep.
When Buffy woke the next morning, her eyes hazy and her mind still half asleep, the sun streamed brightly through a glass-paned window and filtered in a long beam into the room.
Buffy sat up with a start, looking across the room to see Spike shaking a smoking hand and whisking a sheet over his head.
Buffy shot out of bed, dragging a blanket with her, and throwing it over the empty rod above the window. Spike looked cautiously from behind his sheet, squinting.
“God, you’d think this place could afford curtains. I almost burned up in my sleep.”
There was a knock at the door, and the two looked at it confusedly. “Hello?” Buffy called.
“Ah, yes, ma’am. I just wanted to let you both know that breakfast is out downstairs if you’d like to come along. I heard you talking, so I figured I might mention it.”
“Oh. Um, thank you.”
“Quite alright,” the woman behind the door smiled and continued down the hall.
A few minutes later, Spike and Buffy made their way downstairs, having decided that breakfast wouldn’t be so bad, especially considering that the only food Spike had packed was a few loafs of half-stale bread from a cupboard, having said he had to take something that no one would miss.
As the two settled down at a round, wooden table, a woman approached them and set down two plates of eggs. “Here you go.”
“Thanks,” Buffy looked down at her food. “Somehow I wasn’t picturing eggs.”
“You got lucky,” said Spike. “Rest of the breakfast food from this time is rot.”
It was just when they were finishing their food that Spike noticed something extremely unexpected. He straightened up, tapping Buffy’s hand.
“Look. Two tables down.”
Buffy turned. “Two ladies talking?” she asked, quizzically.
“Yeah. The girl in the green dress. Seem familiar? Hair’s longer, but if I’m not mistaken...”
Buffy’s eyes widened. “Oh my god.”
Spike smiled. “I think we just found our ticket home.” He stood up. “I’ll go into the back room. Think it was empty before. You bring her along and let’s see if we can’t make her help.”
Buffy nodded, getting up and walking over to the girl, who was in the middle of an enthusiastic conversation.
“My, that’s just terrible. How could he do that to you!”
“I know,” the second woman said, a tear in her eye. “I’m just so mad.”
“I bet you wish he would turn into a toad. Or a stinkbug.”
“Well, I don’t know if I would go so far as to say that.”
“Oh, come on. Deep down, you want something nasty to happen to him.”
“...No? I mean, I love him. That’s the problem.”
“Seriously? You’re giving me nothing, you know that.”
Buffy turned to where Spike was disappearing into a small room. “And don’t come back, you… man!” she called after him loudly.
The girl at the table looked up suddenly, eyes falling on Buffy excitedly. “Excuse me,” she said, to the woman with whom she had been talking, and hurried over to where Buffy was doing her best to look both enraged and heartbroken.
Buffy turned towards the girl. “Y-yes?”
“Sorry, but I couldn’t help but overhear… Is something wrong?”
“Wrong? Of course. How could I be okay? My boyfriend always tells me what to do and gets mad at me for no reason. I wish…”
The girl smiled. “Yes?”
“I really shouldn’t say,” said Buffy. “I should… I should go apologize.”
“Apologize? How about instead we go together and you tell me exactly what it is you wish.”
Buffy smiled in false tearfulness. “Okay.”
* * *
Buffy and the young woman entered the back room, where they were greeted by the sight of of Spike feeding enthusiastically on a maid.
“Spike!” Buffy hissed. Spike looked up, dropping the girl to the floor.
“Sorry, love. But we had wanted to be alone, and I was feeling peckish. After all, it’s not like that breakfast really did much for me.” Buffy raised her eyebrows.
“Plus, she’s not dead. Just unconscious.” He wiped a trail of blood of his mouth with the edge of his sleeve, waving at Anya. “Hello.”
Anya turned to Buffy. “That’s a vampire.”
Buffy shrugged. “I know.”
“Your boyfriend is a vampire?”
“Actually, he’s not my boyfriend. Not for a very long time, anyway.”
“So you don’t want me to make him blind or turn him into a toad?”
“That’d be preferable,” Spike interjected. Buffy nodded.
“Not even a little worm that would die if someone stepped on it? Ooh, or, or a caterpillar that can never turn into a butterfly. Or maybe a piece of driftwood.”
“No,” said Buffy, firmly.
“So you lied to me?”
“For a good reason?” Buffy shrugged, sheepishly.
“What reason could you possibly have?”
“We’re stranded,” said Spike. “And we need you to send us home.”
“Well, I would suggest a carriage.”
“Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.”
* * *
When at last they had finished explaining their predicament, they stared at Anya expectantly.
She sighed. “Well, I see your problem, but I still don’t know why I should be bothered with helping you.”
“Because you know us in the future,” said Buffy.
“What?” Anya shook her head. ”Look, I didn’t come to London to be bombarded with demands. I wasn’t planning to work at all. But I got bored...”
“Then why are you here?”
“Visiting a friend. But that’s besides the point. The point is I’m not going to help you.”
There was a long silence, until at last Spike piped up. “Money.”
“When we get home, we’ll give you money. You may not be interested in it now, but in a few centuries it’ll seem like a right nice deal.”
“Fine! You know what? Fine. I’ll help, but only to get rid of you. You’re starting to get on my nerves.” She waved a hand and Buffy and Spike disappeared, with the echo of a “thank you” still drifting in the air.
* * *
Buffy’s eyes drifted open. Spike was sitting next her, leaning down to see if she was alright.
“Why do you always wake up before me?” she asked, placing a hand on her head and sitting up. She and Spike were on the floor beside a wooden table, where sat an antique lamp and strange, glowing crystal. Their bag was sat between them, and it seemed that no time had passed since the moment they had left.
“Home sweet,” Spike smiled.
“About time,” said another voice. They looked up quickly, to see Anya standing in the doorway with her arms crossed. She walked over to them.
“If you don’t mind, I’d like my money now.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Nice to see you, too.”
Spike reached into their bag and produced three pounds and a sixpence. “There,” he said, dropping them into Anya’s hand.
“Never specified what kind of money,” he said, in reaction to the offended face shot him.
“Why do I ever help you people?” Anya shook her head and strode out of the room.
Buffy smirked, standing up. There was a moment’s pause. “Spike?”
Spike smiled before nodding at the door. “You should go. Don’t wanna be late for that dance.”